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Low-Fiber Diet Reduces Beneficial Microbe Population In The Gut

January 15, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
Fiber – plant carbohydrates that people cannot digest – not only feeds humans, it also feeds the trillions of beneficial microbes in the gut. Bacteria in the intestine break fiber into chemicals that nourish cells and reduce inflammation. Microbes eat specialized diets, according to a new U.S. study in mice. That means a fiber-rich diet can nourish a wide variety of gut microbes, while a low-fiber diet nourishes a smaller community. Researchers found that low-fiber diets deplete the complex microbial ecosystems and can cause a loss of diversity and internal deficiencies that can be passed on to future generations. It is not known whether those lost microbes can ever be replaced, or what impact the loss of the microbes may have had on human health.
Erica D. Sonnenburg et al., "Diet-induced extinctions in the gut microbiota compound over generations", Nature, January 15, 2016, © Macmillan Publishers Limited
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